Thursday, May 31, 2012

Genii & Houdini: October 1941

Continuing our look back at the history of Houdini on the cover of Genii, The Conjurors Magazine -- which is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year -- here we have Vol. 6, No. 2 from October 1941.

Cover art this time is the well-known King of Cards poster. However, when it appeared on this cover, it was a rediscovery, as editor William Larsen notes: "The poster which is reproduced on the cover was found in the Houdini files by Edward Saint, Houdini Archivist, and especially rephotogrpahed, on his instructions, for our use."


With their direct link to Edward Saint and Bess, these early Genii's are filled with gems such as the King of Cards poster (which you'll note has the Welsh Bros circus header). One can imagine Ed Saint pushing for a Houdini cover every October by offering Larsen some irresistible rarity. As with the October 1940 issue, this issue contains another unpublished Houdini article called "Keynote To Success". Larsen notes in the introduction:

A typed note accompanied this article, reading as follows: "Please edit. Dictated at mid-night in a hurried manner. Mr. Houdini has not yet seen typed copy. E.F. Sanford, Secretary." Dated October 20, 1926, eleven days before Houdini's death, we, and Dr. Saint, Houdini Archivist, believe it the last article even written by the Great Showman.

The brief article is accompanied by a photo captioned as the last portrait Houdini ever had taken. It's worth noting that in his article Houdini singles out Lafayette as "the greatest producer of mysteries that has ever lived, according to my opinion."


Once again the issue features a memorial page from Bess, and also the story of how Houdini asked, and received, a $1000 fee for performing at a private party. "Nice pay if you can get it", notes Larsen.

Coming next: October 1942

12 comments:

  1. Is this King of cards Poster available anywhere in color?

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  2. You can find a color reprint in lots of places.

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  3. I think they meant this one specifically with the Welsh Bros. header? I don't believe I've seen this one in color. I wonder who owns it? I have seen The Houdinis Metamorphosis poster with Welsh Bros. header in color.

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  4. Welsh Bros header is what we are looking for. Ed Saint or Bess may have owned it and gave the picture or whatever to Genii

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  5. You can see the Welsh Bros. header in color HERE. BTW, the header tells us King of Cards was used during the ’98 Welsh Bros. tour. The poster is not as early as people think, and he did not "start" as the King of Cards as you sometimes hear. I think he had King of Cards and Metamorphosis (in which he bills himself "King of Handcuffs") made at the same time. 1898ish.

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  6. It's 1898 and he's getting a grip on escaping from handcuffs. A police station escape from manacles the first week of 1899 before Beck comes into the picture is amazing.

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  7. BTW, just realized there's a mention of Elliott Sanford here.

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    1. That's interesting. Harry dictated the article to Sanford, who typed it up. Let's hope Ewing publishes Stanford's manuscript of those stormy last weeks.

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  8. Welsh Bros header KING OF CARDS color poster, is what we are looking for AS JOHN COX SAID ABOVE. Ed Saint or Bess may have owned it and gave the picture or whatever to Genii. Where is it now. Would like a color shot of it.
    Dick Brookz and Dorothy Dietrich
    The Houdini Museum, Scranton, PA
    The Only Building in the World Dedicated to Houdini.

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  9. I love the photo of Bess on the 1939 Genii cover. Seeing these later photos of her, I always assumed her hair was silver-white, but the brilliant sheen in the 1939 cover image makes me wonder if she was actually wearing it platinum blonde! Probably not the case given her age at that point, though it was certainly a popular glamour look in the 1930s.

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    1. Yes, I've wondered the same thing! Was she platinum blonde? It was a popular look. But Ed Saint in the Final Houdini Seance recording calls her "the silver haired widow", so I think it was white. And the strands of hair I have from her (yes, I have strands of her hair!) are white.

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    2. Wow, you have strands of Bess's hair, how cool is that! Thanks for clearing up the mystery. I'd forgotten Saint's "silver-haired widow" reference, though I recalled her sister mentioning that Bess liked to look glamorous, so I wondered! Maybe she did an egg shampoo to get the brilliant shine in her hair. Glamorous indeed!

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